Journalists' harassment worrying: Misa

HARARE - Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe has expressed concern at the escalating harassment of journalists as election talk gathers momentum.

Addressing journalists attending a one-day Misa workshop on election reporting and ethics in Bulawayo last week, Misa senior programmes officer Nyasha Nyakunu said the organisation was worried about the latest attack on media practitioners saying it flies in the face of the relatively peaceful environment that had been created when the inclusive government was formed in 2009.

“Cases of journalists being harassed for merely doing their legitimate work has generally increased in the past few months since politicians have started to talk about elections.

“The inclusive government had brought some semblance of normalcy in terms of treatment of journalists but the recent upsurge of violence against them has alarmed us and we have every reason to be worried especially where a journalist in Chinhoyi has been left battling for life.

“We also hear that another journalist in Harare has today (Last Friday) been detained by members of a political party only to be rescued by the intervention of minister of Information Webster Shamu,” said Nyakunu.

He added that compared to the region, Zimbabwe had become the most dangerous place for the media to operate in.

“I think we need to correct our attitude with regards to how we treat the media in the country.

“In Mozambique we have had one or two cases, five or so in Zambia and a few more in South Africa but our figures are a cause for concern.”

A few weeks ago a Zimbabwe Independent journalist, who was reportedly manhandled by supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC at the party’s headquarters in Harare had to be rescued after party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora intervened.

A Daily News reporter Wendy Muperi was on Friday last week held hostage for over one hour and ordered to chant party slogans as she was covering a demonstration by disgruntled supporters who did not make it to the party primary elections at the Zanu PF headquarters.

The Misa workshop covered a wide range of issues where journalists interacted and exchanged ideas on the role of the media in covering elections, electoral processes and what the media should cover in the pre-voting and post voting period.

The workshop also discussed issues that speak to media ethics, safety and deployment of journalists and critiqued past articles on elections. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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